In between stints with a pair of regular backing bands who carried him through the years 1983-1989 and 1995-1997, respectively, Bo Diddley found a temporary home at L.A.'s Triple X Records during the first half of the '90s. Hot on the heels of 1993's This Should Not Be, Promises gathered five of the singer's originals for the EP format. Diddley is joined by session guitarist Mike Boulware, lap steel player Tuck Tucker, and a series of nagging, programmed synth beats. The material finds Diddley dawning a surprising variety of musical hats to varying degrees of success. The opening title tack is a rigid country stomp, an elementary drum-program job begging listeners to kick up their heels while Tucker takes care of the twang. "Kids Don't Do It" rides a funky bassline, and washes of synth strings are prominent on "Here What I'm Saying." Lyrically speaking, Diddley is most forgivable when he adheres to the tried and true. "Promises" finds the singer at the end of his rope, unable to cope with his partner's neglect. By the time listeners reach the fade, Diddley is walking out the door. Attempts to warn the youth on "Kids Don't Do It" and "Here What I'm Saying," however, resort to the sort of lessons one might expect from an after-school special. "I'm Gonna Get Your Girlfriend" and "She Wasn't Raped" (songs whose titles speak for themselves) regrettably allow Diddley's blues braggadocio free reign. Promises, then, is a rather unflattering portrait of a musical legend.
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AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush